All posts by Chris

Experimental Blood Test May be Used to Detect Melanoma at an Early Stage

Experimental Blood Test May be Used to Detect Melanoma at an Early Stage
Experimental Blood Test May be Used to Detect Melanoma at an Early Stage

Melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer, has a survival rate of up to 95 percent that is reduced nearly in half by late diagnosis. An experimental blood test for melanoma showing high degrees of accuracy could make it easier for patients to receive timely cancer treatment.

Finding Clues in the Bloodstream

Antibodies are produced by the body’s immune system to attack foreign substances, including cancer cells. A research team at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia conducted a study using blood samples to identify particular antibodies created in the immune response to melanoma.

The 245 test subjects included both melanoma patients and healthy volunteers. After the team identified a combination of 10 antibodies specific to the presence of melanoma, they were able to detect melanoma patients with 79 percent accuracy and healthy participants with 84 percent accuracy.

Progress in Early Cancer Detection

Professor Mel Ziman, leader of the project, said the team is proceeding on a trial with 1,000 participants to get the accuracy rate up to the required 90 percent level. Ziman projects that with a successful outcome, the test could be commercially available within five years.

While early detection makes a vital difference in successful melanoma treatment, current testing methods are costly and invasive. Scientists around the world are also making progress on blood tests to identify several types of cancer, including ovarian, lung and esophagus.

Better Testing = More Effective Cancer Treatment

Issels® uses extensive standard and genomic testing to determine the specific course of cancer treatment best suited for each patient. Visit our website for more information about our state-of-the-art diagnostic methods.

New Research Using a Molecule to Target Proteins that Grow Cancer Tumors

New Research Using a Molecule to Target Proteins that Grow Cancer Tumors
New Research Using a Molecule to Target Proteins that Grow Cancer Tumors

One of the benefits of immunotherapy for cancer is that it doesn’t carry the same debilitating side effects as more traditional treatments. Researchers in Australia made a significant breakthrough in the field with its work on “designer molecules” that inhibit growth of cancer cells.

Stopping Cancer at “Ground Zero”

The study, conducted by a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Adelaide, involved a protein called proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). PCNA’s donut-like shape lets DNA slide through its center, where it is then replicated.

As explained by project leader Dr. John Bruning, while PCNA is required for DNA replication, it’s overexpressed in 90 percent of all cancers. The team set out to find a way to target PCNA, thereby preventing cancer cells from multiplying.

Creating a Barrier to Cancer Cell Proliferation

Bruning’s team successfully created a drug-like molecule using a protein that naturally interacts with PCNA. They were also able to change the chemistry to keep it from degrading as it does in its natural form.

PCNA rarely mutates, making it less likely to develop resistance against the “designer molecule,” which has demonstrated greater effectiveness than previous forms of PCNA inhibitors with less chance of side effects.

According to Bruning, the use of a natural protein in the creation of the molecule allows for more precise targeting of PCNA. Bruning is hopeful that his team’s work will usher in the development of a whole new class of drugs.

Immunotherapy for Cancer at Issels®: Using the Body’s Own Resources

Our immunotherapy for cancer programs boost the ability of the body’s immune system to fight tumors. Visit our website to learn more.

Liver Cancer Rates Rise and Becomes the Sixth Deadliest Cancer

Liver Cancer Rates Are Rising
Liver Cancer Rates Are Rising

Thanks in part to the improved effectiveness of immunotherapy cancer treatment, overall death rates due to this disease have been dropping over the past few decades. Unfortunately, liver cancer death rates have been going in the opposite direction.

Liver Cancer Death Rates Climb

According to a July 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), death rates for all forms of cancer combined have declined since 1990. But in the period from 2000-2016, liver cancer death rates for ages 25 and up rose a dramatic 43 percent.

The increase breaks down to 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016 compared to 7.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2000. As a result, liver cancer moved from the ninth-leading cause of cancer deaths up to the sixth spot.

Behind the Numbers

Patients with other types of cancer, such as breast, lung and colon, have benefited from better diagnostic and treatment procedures. In addition, lower rates of people are developing these forms of cancer than in the past.

The same can’t be said for liver cancer. Rates of developing this disease have remained fairly steady, while diagnostic and treatment methods are not as effective as those for other cancers.

Within overall liver cancer death rates, the numbers were highest for adults aged 75 and up. Dr. Jeffery Drebin, liver cancer surgeon at NYC’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, explains that it’s primarily due to long-term effects of liver inflammation.

Personalized Cancer Treatment at Issels®

Our immunotherapy cancer treatment programs are individually created to address the needs of patients with liver cancer and other therapy-resistant tumors. Contact us for more information.

Research: New Blood Test ID’s Breast Cancer Patients Who May Relapse

Research: New Blood Test ID's Breast Cancer Patients Who May Relapse
Research: New Blood Test ID’s Breast Cancer Patients Who May Relapse

In addition to fighting primary tumors, immunotherapy for cancer aims to prevent future recurrence. Scientists recently made a major breakthrough with the discovery of an indicator of possible relapse in patients with HR-positive breast cancer.

Searching for Clues to Breast Cancer Recurrence

Breast cancer treatment has improved significantly, but unfortunately many women are subject to recurrence five years or more beyond the original diagnosis. The risk is even higher in the case of HR-positive breast cancer, which constitutes more than 50 percent of all breast cancer cases.

A team at Albert Einstein Cancer Center in New York conducted a study of circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, in breast cancer patients. Blood samples came from participants in a previous trial combining a vascular endothelial growth factor called bevacizumab with chemotherapy in post-surgery treatment.

Could a Blood Test Be the Answer?

At the time of the previous trial, none of the participants displayed evidence of recurrence. After a median follow-up period of 1.6 years, the team found nearly 20 times increased risk of recurrence in HR-positive patients who also had a positive CTC assay result. There was no corresponding increase in patients with HR-negative breast cancer.

According to team leader Dr. Joseph A. Sparano, the team was surprised to see that the rate of recurrence was so high. Scientists are now planning to study negative CTC tests to determine if they can serve as negative predictor markers.

Immunotherapy for Cancer Treatment for Advanced Tumors

Thanks to our state-of-the-art immunotherapy for cancer treatments, many patients with Stage 4 breast cancer have been able to achieve long-term remission. Contact us for more information.

Testosterone Treatment May Prevent Loss of Body Mass and Muscle Atrophy During Cancer Treatment

Testosterone Treatment May Prevent Loss of Body Mass and Muscle Atrophy During Cancer Treatment
Testosterone Treatment May Prevent Loss of Body Mass and Muscle Atrophy During Cancer Treatment

Testosterone is a naturally produced hormone associated with maintenance of muscle mass and strength. Scientists are now studying the potential of using testosterone to combat muscle atrophy that may occur during immunotherapy for cancer and other treatments.

Cachexia: A Major Side Effect of Cancer

About half of all cancer patients experience a condition known as cachexia. Characterized by loss of body mass, weakness and fatigue, cachexia is serious enough to be instrumental in 22 percent of cancer deaths.

One of the problems is that scientists have little information about the causes of cachexia. As a result, there are almost no options to manage this condition in cancer patients. Nutritional treatments can lessen fatigue, but can’t counteract muscle loss.

Can Hormone Therapy Fight Muscle Loss and Fatigue?

Armed with the knowledge that testosterone builds muscle in healthy people, a research team at the University of Texas in Galveston set out to see if the same would hold true with cancer patients. The trial group included individuals diagnosed with a form of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

While undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or both, patients received a seven-week course of either testosterone or a placebo. Testosterone recipients maintained total body mass while increasing lean body mass by 3.2 percent.

The team’s next step is to analyze muscle proteins and determine how cancer affects them. Their eventual goal is to prevent cachexia from affecting cancer patients’ quality of life.

Issels®: The Leader in Immunotherapy for Cancer

At Issels®, our non-toxic immunotherapy for cancer programs don’t carry the risk of side effects found in traditional treatments. Visit our website for more information.

Innovative Research Aims to Snatch Cancer Cells by Magnetism and Nanoparticles

Innovative Research Aims to Snatch Cancer Cells by Magnetism and Nanoparticles
Innovative Research Aims to Snatch Cancer Cells by Magnetism and Nanoparticles

The more precise diagnostic methods are, the more effective immunotherapy for cancer can be. In a case of “opposites attract,” scientists recently took a giant step toward improved diagnostics with the principles of magnetism.

Putting a “Charge” in Cancer Cells

Liquid biopsy is a cancer screening technique in which blood is drawn from a patient and tested for circulating tumor cells, or CTCs. Unfortunately, CTCs are so few and far between that the blood sample may be completely free of them, resulting in a false diagnosis.

In a study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, a team of researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine tested a group of pigs with CTCs in their bloodstream.

– The CTCs were first tagged with a nanoparticle containing magnetic properties.

– In the next step, a small wire was inserted near the pig’s ear in a vein that is comparable to the ones in a human arm.

– As the tagged tumor cells drifted by, the magnetic pull caused them to stick to the wire, which was then removed from the vein.

What’s Next?

Not only did the magnetic method detect 10 to 80 times more CTCs than a typical liquid biopsy, it found 500 to 5,000 more tumor cells than an earlier wire-based model. Dr. Sanjiv Sam Gambhir of Stanford expressed hope that the wire device could have applications for cancer treatment as well as diagnosis.

Thorough and Non-Invasive Diagnostic Procedures at Issels®

Our extensive diagnostic procedures let us create a personalized immunotherapy for cancer program that incorporates a number of complementary methods to treat the tumor along with its environment. Contact us for more information.